NASA InSight Mars Lander touchdown

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On CBS' "Face The Nation" Sunday, NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration Steve Clarke said the space agency is looking to get humans to Mars sometime in the 2030s.

Understanding how Mars formed could reveal more about the processes that formed Earth, too.

"I'm incredibly happy to be in a very safe and boring landing location", said project manager Tom Hoffman.

The size of an SUV, InSight is created to explore the martian interior by sensing "marsquakes". No lander has dug deeper than several inches, and no seismometer has ever worked on Mars.

The InSight is carrying two main science instruments - a burrowing heat probe and a trio of highly sensitive seismometers - to help mission scientists map the Martian insides in unprecedented detail over the next two Earth years, according to Space.com.

Speeding faster than a bullet at 12,300 miles (19,800 kilometers) an hour, the heat-shielded spacecraft encounters scorching friction as it enters Mars' atmosphere. Fifteen seconds later, the heat shield separates from the spacecraft. A belly-mounted radar will begin to sense the approaching ground.

Meanwhile, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will record the entry, descent, and landing of InSight in real time, but because of planetary dynamics, that spacecraft won't relay that information back to Earth for about three hours.

By contrast, just one of Nasa's previous eight attempts have failed. "The current trajectory is completely good".

InSight will plunge through the thin Martian atmosphere, heatshield first, and use a parachute to slow down.

Insight will land 600km away from the Curiosity rover.

Mission InSight, construction and commissioning at a cost of $850 million, will last about two years.

'I'm rather nervous and tense, ' she said this morning. "After that, we should be in good shape".

"If you were a Martian coming to explore Earth's interior like we are exploring Mars's interior, it wouldn't matter if you put down in the middle of Kansas or the beaches of Oahu", Bruce Banerdt, from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement.

InSight's primary instrument is a highly sensitive French-built seismometer, created to detect the slightest vibrations from "marsquakes" and meteor impacts.

At 3 p.m. ET on Monday, November 26, a group of researchers will be really sweating.

After the landing, scientists will take it slow and steady with the lander and its scientific instruments. "We don't want underdense material for it to sink into".

Phoenix, however, was a great success, and the stationary lander outlasted NASA's expectations, surviving almost double the 90 Martian sols planned for the mission before succumbing to dust and cold in a way that we fervently hope the Opportunity rover has not. The arm will then place a wind and heat shield on top of it like a bell jar. Its mission is to study the interior of the planet. One, the lander will land on its three feet and to prevent mishaps, a flat surface would be helpful.

The heat probe, developed by German partners, will be deployed soon after. For the scientists and engineers who designed InSight, this is called "seven minutes of terror".

The Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) is a science instrument and will determine if there is any seismic activity at all in the interior of the planet.

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